Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.
Tim Kennedy opted to go gritty over pretty in defeating Michael Bisping last night (Wed., April 16, 2014) at UFC's The Ultimate Fighter: "Nations" Finale at Colisee de Quebec in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada (highlights here).
Taking stern orders from one of world's leading coaches and "sport killer" to some, Greg Jackson, Kennedy rag-dolled "The Count" on the mat for almost five rounds -- something nobody ever really does.
Emerging from the five-round main event as the victor, Kennedy is a perfect 3-0 inside the Octagon thus far, improving his winning streak to four.
But the question remains, does he have what it takes to contend for the UFC middleweight championship?
He at least earns himself something close to a title-eliminator bout. The "Ranger Up" rep finds himself in the group of higher-ranked middleweights and it's time to assess his next move.
The middleweight division has a few good contenders, yet as soon as Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida was announced for UFC 175, everything was sort of put in perspective.
Vitor Belfort was sent to the sidelines after the debacle surrounding the ban of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) and the drug test he may or may not have failed, and if there's any truth to his claim that he's going to be facing the UFC 175 main event winner, you can't really match him up against anyone at the moment. He's more mysterious than The Riddler at this point.
The man who beat the United States Army veteran for the Strikeforce middleweight championship, Luke Rockhold, has a fight against Tim Boetsch at UFC 172 in Baltimore, and despite the two meeting just under two years ago, if Rockhold wins, it's an interesting rematch to put together. If Boetsch wins, it's even a fresher match-up for the California-born fighter, yet it doesn't really put him up against a top contender or at least, someone who could be the leader of the pack.
When it comes to those types of fights, Kennedy could anticipate the winner of either Mark Munoz vs. Gegard Mousasi or Francis Carmont vs. C.B. Dollaway, both taking place at UFC Fight Night 41.
Although, the most sensible option right now to guide Kennedy to a contender's spot is someone he met almost four years ago, when he was beaten for the Strikeforce middleweight strap.
Ronaldo Souza was eyeing the winner of UFC's TUF: "Nations" Finale main event winner anyway, and if health permits, a rematch against Kennedy is just what the doctor ordered. "Jacare" is on a streak of his own, stringing together six victories since losing that same title to Rockhold in 2011.
It seems like the Brazilian has already done enough for a title shot, destroying Chris Camozzi and Yushin Okami in the Octagon before outmuscling Francis Carmont at UFC Fight Night 36 two months ago.
It's obvious Souza would be favored in this fight, but the American would serve as his stiffest test yet. Also, don't count out Kennedy after last night's performance. Sometimes, when you relish the role of the underdog, great things can happen.
After seeing what everyone is up to at 185 pounds, this is arguably the best option available.
Plus, it's UFC. Rematches are just bound to happen.
For more on UFC's TUF: "Nations" Finale, check out our live story stream including video highlights, recaps and full results here.